HBO announced on Monday an indefinite decision to no longer purchase fights from Golden Boy Promotions, according to a source familiar with the network’s move.
“In order to achieve our goal of the best fighters in the most compelling matchups,” read an official statement from HBO Sports president, Ken Hershman, which does not directly mention Golden Boy. “We’ve decided to focus our efforts and resources on those strategic relationships where we better share common goals and business philosophies.”
HBO’s last televised fight that was promoted by Golden Boy was on March 9 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., when Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins unanimously decisioned Tavoris Cloud for the IBF’s light heavyweight belt.
HBO “just felt, on background, that it needed to be in business with partners and promoters who shared the same strategic direction,” according to a source close to the network’s decision.
“[HBO felt] that, right now, it was not on the same page as Golden Boy. HBO’s taking a break from Golden Boy. There are just different objectives right now.”
A major move that has affected the relationship occurred last month with Showtime’s contract with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather., who has been promoted by Golden Boy.
In a move that Showtime Sports’ boss Stephen Espinoza called “a game-changer,” Mayweather announced that his first-ever appearance on HBO’s rival network against Robert Guerrero on May 4 would be televised on Showtime Pay Per View from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Espinoza could not be reached for an immediate comment for this report.
Another Golden Boy fighter who will fight on Showtime is WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez against Austin Trout at The Alamodome in San Antonio on April 20. Alvarez would then like to face Mayweather in the fall, perhaps in September.
Under the circumstances, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said that he was “hardly surprised” at Hershman’s decision.
“The President of HBO Sports, Ken Hershman, did not have any conversations with me since last November or December,” said Schaefer.
“This is clearly the aftermath of the two biggest names in the sport, Floyd Mayweather and Canelo, leaving HBO for Showtime. The fact that so many of the biggest names have left HBO for Showtime, I think that tells you all that you need to know.”
Mayweather’s deal is part of an exclusive multi-fight venture with the cable network and its parent company, CBS Corporation. The package could be worth $250 million, according to an online report by Forbes’ Magazine, and represents a landmark move in the tenure of Espinoza.
Hired as Showtime’s executive vice president and general manager of sports programming in November of 2011, Espinoza replaced Ken Hershman, who accepted his current post president of HBO Sports in October of 2011.
“When you’re talking about doing a deal with the leading athlete in the sport, as Floyd Mayweather is, then I think ‘game-changer’ is appropriate, and not an exaggeration,” said Espinoza, during an earlier interview with RingTV.com.
“He is, without question, the most entertaining, the most compelling, the most talked about athlete in boxing, and among the top in sports. So it’s a massive ‘get’ for us.”
Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya could not be reached for an immediate comment, but Schaefer did not close the door on future collaborations with HBO.
“We told HBO that we are happy to work with them and that we are happy to work with anyone. But obviously, it has to be competitive,” said Schaefer.
“I think that HBO is looking at the market place a little bit differently than others are looking at it. The one thing is that it doesn’t matter what business you’re in. You never say never, and, we’ll see what’s going happen. That’s their decision.”
Top Rank’s CEO Bob Arum worked with HBO this past Saturday, when WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley rose from a 12th-round knockdown to defeat Russian rival Ruslan Provodnikov in a dramatic unanimous decision.
“I have no comments at all. That’s the decision of HBO, and we’re very proud that at Top Rank, that we’re supplying programming to HBO, particularly like the programming that we had on Saturday night,” said Arum.
“As far as who HBO is going to be buying from, and who they’re not going to be buying from, that’s up to them. But we’re very proud that we’re supplying to HBO.”
Adrien “The Problem” Broner had indicated to RingTV.com that he expected for his upcoming June 22 clash with WBA welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi to be televised on HBO from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“Absolutely, there was a dialogue with HBO as it relates to Adrien’s next fight,” said Schaefer. “That’s about it.”
In a report by Yahoo!Sports, Schaefer denied that Broner’s contract with each of them expires in April.
“Adrien has a long-term contract with Al Haymon and a long-term contract with us,” said Schaefer, in part.
Other Golden Boy fighters who have fightd scheduled on Showtime include RING, WBA and WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia, who will defend his belt against former titleholder Zab Judah at Barclays Center on April 27, former two-division titlewinner Amir Khan, who will face ex-lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz also on April 27, and IBF welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander, who is expected to defend against England’s Kell Brook on May 18.
Unbeaten featherweight star Gary Russell Jr., who has also recently fought on Showtime, works with Golden Boy, and, like Mayweather, Broner, Garcia, Alexander, Trout and others, has been advised by the powerful Al Haymon.
“Obviously, HBO is upset at advisor Al Haymon and at me, and this is their way of getting back at us. I think that it is an ill-advised strategy,” said Schaefer.
“Because the only ones who are getting hurt are the HBO subscribers, which were used to seeing the best fighters fighting on HBO, but that, obviously, will no longer be the case. There is nothing I can do about it. We will continue to put together the best fights. Having said that, I wish HBO the best, because it is a terrific company.”
HBO will continue to have access to fighters such as RING junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire and WBA counterpart Guillermo Rigondeaux, who are scheduled to fight on the network on April 13 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez dethroned Top Rank’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on HBO Pay Per View in September. HBO will televise Martinez, promoted by Lou DiBella, against Martin Murray on April 27, as well as heavyweight Chris Arreola against Bermane Stiverne on the same date.
HBO also has RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who built his reputation by winning Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament under Hershman, and who scored a 10th-round stoppage of RING light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson on HBO in September.
Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen, offered his thoughts.
“It doesn’t really have an affect on us at all because we’re doing business with who we’ve been doing business with, and we’ve had a good relationship with them. There’s really not much to say,” said Goossen.
“I’ve always been one to really kind of concentrate on what we have under our roof and not what other promoters have under theirs. Our last fight was obviously on HBO, and that’s the direction that we’re taking moving forward. But you can never say never.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com